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A Letter to Pre-Dad Me

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Dear John 2010,

Hey man, how's it going? It's me, you. Well, you from the future. Four years in the future, to be exact. Right now you're probably reading this on your iPhone 3G while Stevie is rubbing cocoa butter on her belly to help prevent stretch marks from the basketball of a daughter she's carrying in that tiny body of hers. That doesn't really work, by the way. You know what does? Telling her you love her stretch marks, kissing them, and thanking her over and over for making a baby. Do you know why it works? Because you aren't lying. You are truly grateful, and she'll know it.

Don't believe this letter is from me? Well here, I'll prove it. Right now is a pretty exciting time for you. Every time you close your eyes you picture a different version of your daughter. No matter how you squint your mind, you can't quite make out what she is going to look like. It's cute. You try and take your wife's face and make a baby version of it, but it just ends up looking like her head on a baby body -- which causes you to laugh -- which causes her to ask what you're laughing at... and you say "nothing." Well I know what you're laughing at, John. You are laughing at the ridiculous thought of your wife's head on a baby body. Want to know why I am laughing, John? ::spoiler alert:: Because that is exactly what your daughter looks like when she comes out, just with less hair. She is a tiny, squished, hairless Stevie. And in those first few minutes, you cry more than she does.

Need more proof? OK. You're scared all the time. You are terrified that something is going to go wrong. You're afraid of birth defects. You're afraid something is going to happen to Stevie during the delivery. You're afraid that you're not ready to be a dad.

I know what you're thinking right now. You're thinking, "Whatever dude, none of those things are proof. They are generic things that all dads are afraid of." You're right. That is very observant of you, past me. They are. You're pretty smart. How about this? Every morning in the shower, where no one will see you, you get down on your knees and pray to a god you don't necessarily believe in, just in case, and beg for your daughter and your wife to be OK. You've done it every day since the miscarriage scare in November.

I'll give you a second to pick your jaw up off the floor.

OK. So now you know it's me. And now come your questions. Yes, you have another kid. Yes, it's a boy this time. No, you're not as excited as you thought you'd be about him being a boy because, by the time you find out, you are already so ridiculously in love with your daughter that another daughter would have been fantastic too.

In fact, the lack of excitement worries you (because worrying is what you do). Don't. Once your son shows up, you fall nutty in love with him too. It's pretty awesome. Here's why: Just when you think your love is at maximum capacity, just when you think that there is no way to fit any more love in a heart that feels so full, you discover something that changes everything. Your love is not a finite resource. It is infinitely replenishable. While your daughter's gift will be to make you a father, your son's gift will be this knowledge: When you are tired, your love is not. When you are angry, your love is not. When you are Jimmy Olsen hanging from the side of the Daily Planet, your love is Superman. You are going to fail so beautifully at so many things in the next four years, but your love for your family will not fail you once. It will pick you up. It will straighten your path. It will make you whole again.

Look, I could fill this letter with parenting advice, but I'm not going to. You need to learn those lessons in the field. I will say that changing diapers isn't nearly as hard as everyone makes it out to be, and the "Terrible Twos" are more like the "Irritating Twos," while the Threes should be called the "You-Might-As-Well-Be-Hitting-Yourself-In-The-Face-With-A-Hammer Threes." But even then, in the aggregate, they are awesome.

So if there's no parenting advice, why am I writing you? Well... because I can. Because I know you need to hear it. The roller coaster is going up the first hill right now, and all you can hear is the click, click, click, click. Your hands are sweaty and you're trying your best to keep a brave, happy face, but I know that all you want in the world is someone you trust to tell you that everything is going to be OK -- and that silly pride of yours makes you too stubborn to ask. Well, you don't have to ask. I'm just going to give it to you, 'cause you're a nice dude and so am I. John, Everything. Is. Going. To. Be. OK. Stevie and your daughter are going to be fine. Your son is going to be fine. And like I said before, even when things aren't fine, your love will carry you through -- because it is relentless. And you know what else? You're going to be a pretty good dad.

Enjoy the ride, buddy.

John 2014

2014-04-24-kinnear10.jpg

P.S. Now go to sleep and quit playing with your iPhone so much. It's a bad habit and it only gets harder to break.

P.P.S. Wednesday, July 29, 2010 Powerball Numbers: 38 - 2 - 43 - 5 - 59 Powerball 8

P.P.P.S. Your daughter is going to pour an entire bottle of waterproof sunscreen on the carpet in her room. I'm not going to tell you when or how to prevent it. I'm just going to laugh at you in the future. Ha. Ha. Ha.

An earlier version of this piece appeared on John Kinnear's personal blog, Ask Your Dad. You can also find his blog on Facebook.

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